I am giving my four year old a bath when she reaches for a rag on the side of the tub that my husband uses to wash his man parts. Once again, he forgot to put it in the laundry, giving our little girl a germ infested play toy for her bath time fun.
From the corner of my eye, I see her tiny hand reach for that blue rag, and immediately I lunge, hands extended to stop her while screaming "Nooo!" in what feels like super slow motion. Several scenarios involving that rag and my child's face flash before my eyes before I manage to grab her hands in mine. She looks at me with wide startled eyes, and I realize I might have overreacted just a bit. Calm down, mama. It's not like a plague ridden rat used it for a bedroll. Be reasonable. You know exactly where that cloth has been.
"Just don't use that rag, honey," I finally manage. "It's icky." I wrinkle my nose so she knows just how icky it really is, hoping that will be enough to stop her without having to answer any uncomfortable questions. But of course it's not because she's freaking four. "Why?" she demands with all the authority of 'one who knows how to get her way.' So I tell her, and I use the big words, too. Not those wimpy potty words that most parents use when teaching their children about parts of the body. No, I use the textbook words that make prepubescent middle school students squirm when they have to read about them in 8th grade health class. I want to impress on this child early on that this family uses the correct terms for the parts of the body, and that she should never be afraid to use them with us (Plus, I am hoping she won't understand half of what I am saying and will just give me the darn washcloth without further argument).
When I finish with the four-year old equivalent of 'Basic Anatomy 101,' I ask, "Do you have any questions?" She wrinkles her little forehead and then looks at me with confused brown eyes. "But why does daddy need to wash his peanuts in the shower?" "So they are nice and clean when he wants a snack," I sigh, not knowing whether to be relieved or worried that she missed the point of my little lesson.
"Now give me that rag."